Ben and I spent a day in historic Samarkand, located 344km (214 miles) from Tashkent. We used Uzbekstian’s high speed Afrosiyob train to reach there, a 2hr journey that could not have been smoother.
I outlined the headache of buying tickets in my Hyatt Regency Tashkent review, but next time I will just travel to the station myself, stand in line, and purchase a ticket.
Our train departed at 8:30a and we arrived at the train station roughly 45 minutes prior to departure. This proved to be more than enough time.
The station itself is swarming with security and a passport check and security screening is required simply to enter the station grounds. The station itself is an impressive structure and while not quite a European central train station (i.e. a city within a city), there are several eateries available inside.
Our train was already parked upon our arrival. Boarding began roughly 30 minutes prior to departure. Tickets were checked as we stepped outside to board the train.
For this journey, we chose to travel in economy class. Onboard, we found comfortable 2-2 seating in an air conditioned cabin. Each seat had a (two-prong, Euro stye) power outlet, foot rest and an overhead monitor provided journey progress.
We pulled out at 8:30:00…precisely, to the second, on schedule. That was impressive.
As we left the city limits of Tashkent, the train speed rose to over 200km/hr. I won’t say the ride was perfectly smooth, but for the most part it was.
Economy class included free cookies and teas. Train associates passed through the cabin offering these complimentary items followed by another cart selling snacks and soft drinks for purchase. A café car with heartier meals is also available.
There is no wi-fi onboard.
We arrived on-time in Samarkand, 2hr and 10min later. Compare that to a 50-minute flight and you have a much better experience by rail.
Uzbekistan High Speed Train – Business Class
I took a look at business class. It was a bit roomier–seats were 1-2 instead of 2-2–but I don’t think it is necessary.
Business class cost about 30% more than economy.
Journey Home: Just as Smooth
We arrived early to Samarkand railway station, another beautiful structure, and spent 30 minutes working prior to our train’s departure. There was no (functioning) wi-fi in the station.
Interestingly, the train left three minutes ahead of schedule for the trip back. Good thing we did not cut it close!
I already wrote about our trip home — punctual, efficient, but with a lively seatmate who wanted to get drunk with us.
I was impressed by the punctuality and cleanliness of the high-speed railway system. This is a great way to get Samarkand when visiting Tashkent.